Archive for the ‘ Servant Leadership ’ Category

Ethical Behavior in Leadership

“Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one is watching – even when doing the wrong thing is legal”. – Aldo Leopold

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Ethical
adjective
Avoiding activities or organizations that do harm to people or the environment.

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Examples of non-ethical behavior in business and leadership are all around us; and recent well-publicized ethical breaches in organizations have brought a great deal of attention to the issue of ethical behavior – from political campaigns filled with half-truths or outright lies, and distortions to support a viewpoint; to examples of business tax evasion; to politicians submitting fraudulent expenses. The lack of integrity around the world is alarming. Even Patricia Wallington writing for CIO identifies that 82% of CEO’s admitted lying about their golf scores.

Ethics

Ethical behavior is essential in leadership – good leaders have integrity, honesty, and are inclined to do the right thing (which is not, necessarily, the easy or quick choice). Ethical leaders will display self-confidence, and the people around them will be more inclined to work for a leader they know they can trust to make the right decisions. A paper published by Johnathan K. Nelson, George Mason University explains that ethical leadership is associated with a number of desired outcomes related to employees at the individual and group levels, including willingness to exert extra effort and help others; better task performance; increased job satisfaction and commitment to the organization; perceptions of an ethical climate; optimism in the future of the organization and their place within it; perceptions of task significance, autonomy, and voice – including a willingness to report problems to management.

But how can we work to become ethical leaders?

Before we look at how we can become ethical leaders, we need to look at a bigger-picture approach of identifying ourselves as moral people. Jonathan K Nelson’s paper goes on to identify key traits of ethical people:

  • Ensure that ethical behavior in their private life is consistent with the moral standards they publically promote. Ensuring that their actions are not hypocritical of their words.
  • Take responsibility for their actions.
  • Show concern for other people.
  • Treat others fairly and with respect.
  • Use personal and organizational values to guide their behavior and decisions.
  • Implement decisions that are objective and fair, based on fact and not opinion.

Ethics in leadership, however, goes beyond simply acting as a moral person. Being an ethical leader includes recognizing that employees are looking for guidance in their decision-making, and they need to recognize that they have power of influence over the behavior of others. Ethical leaders:

  • Demonstrate examples of ethical behavior and ethical decision-making.
  • Explain decisions not only in making a business case, but in ethical terms as well.
  • Discuss ethical issues in their communication with employees; and encourage ethics-centered discussions, where they can encourage subordinates to speak up about their ethics-related questions and concerns.
  • Explain ethical rules and principles.
  • Give subordinates a say in decision-making and listen to their ideas and concerns.
  • Set clear ethical standards and enforce those standards through the use of organizational rewards, and holding people accountable when standard are not met.

EthicalSystems.Org also provides gives us some ideas we can apply to our leadership role to empower us to act more ethically on a day-to-day basis:

Got Ethics Post It 2

Make ethics a clear priority
Ethical leaders make ethics a clear and consistent part of their agendas, set the standards for those around them, set examples of appropriate behavior, and hold everyone accountable when those standards aren’t met.

Make ethical culture a part of every personnel-related function in your organization
Leaders need to work hard through the hiring process, training new employees, and continuing performance management to bring in the right employees in the first instance, and then help them to work within the organization’s underlying values on ethical business.

Encourage, measure, and reward ethical leadership.
Ethical leadership from the top down is very important – not only because it creates an environment in which lower-level ethical leaders can flourish and grow – but ethical leadership at the supervisory level will guide and encourage followers’ attitudes and behavior.

Ethical leadership, at all levels of an organization, not only encourages employees within a business to act with moral integrity and make the right decisions by providing the right guidance and support on decisions and empowering employees to raise concerns when they feel something isn’t right, but this in turn will support the ethical view of the business, both internally and externally. Ethical leadership has an associated positive effect on employees. Ethical leadership supports the organization in their stead within society ensuring that the business as a whole is able to operate ethically and fairly.

For further reading on ethics in leadership, the Community Tool Box has an article which clearly defines ethics and ethical leadership; and looks at further suggestions on practicing ethical leadership; and Jack Zenger, writing for Forbes looks at ways to prevent corruption (and in turn, develop ethical behavior) in the top leadership levels of an organization.

Emotional Technology: Innovations That Could Change Leaders

There’s currently some fantastic technology out there, from wearables and self-lacing shoes (yes, like the ones in Back to the Future) to VR and spectacular advances in science that will someday make it to consumer products. But what about beyond the current advances? And what about tech that can help us become better leaders?

Currently, there doesn’t seem to be any fancy tech piece that can suddenly make you a better leader. And with more and more Millennials entering the workforce who are tech dependent, it’s becoming harder and harder for them to perform when they are promoted.

And yet, the technology is on its way. One such prediction is the rise of “Emotional Technology”, as outlined in the following:


Particularly with the the first (mood reader) and third (Socrates) pieces of tech, leaders will better be able to understand themselves and regulate their responses. This will drastically improve their leadership skills by providing on-the-spot feedback, insight, and recommendations.

What do you think? Would you find technology like this useful as a leader?

Leadership as a Lifestyle

Go to any Instagram account, Facebook or social media and you will see a host of lifestyle brands – fashion, makeup, fitness, food, sunglasses, restaurants, coffee shops, shoes – from GQ to the next up and coming photographer or fitness expert. We are attracted to these brands for the messages they portray – fun, motivational, luxury – whatever you have an appetite for.

These brands send a clear message and have a strong theme in common – they are these lifestyles all the time.

Fitness at my gym, to “abs are made in the kitchen”, and wearing workout clothes to the grocery store. These brands say, “I am a 24/7” brand. A few weeks ago, I saw guy on the I-15 south curling a dumbbell while driving – I’m not making that up.

In the same way, your outlook as a leader needs to be just like these lifestyle brands. You need to be a lifestyle leader or what I call a five to eight leader. What many people don’t understand is that true leadership is not just a skill, but a lifestyle. It’s not just something you do “in between the lines” of your 8-5 but how you interact from 5 to 8 as well. A leader in the community, a leader at home, a leader at work….a leader. Leadership as a lifestyle.

Great leaders do not create artificial barriers between time, people, work, community or based on the positions they hold and what they can get in return from the relationship. They are real, honest, authentic, and trustworthy. Here’s one that made me chuckle a little bit. There’s a 2+million viewed  TED Talk about how one develops the necessary skills to sound like a leader. Fifteen minutes of discussing how to best develop a persona that exudes leadership from your stance to vocal intonations. I’m not sure what that means or even how you go about “exuding” a leadership persona.

What we should be doing is spending that time developing a leadership lifestyle full of skills such as listening, sympathy, decision making, and trust. If you are a good leader, you’ll sound like one too.

Be a lifestyle leader.

Praise Where Praise is Due

Great Job

Who doesn’t like positive feedback?

 It’s great to feel you have done a job well, beat a target or helped others. Being recognised boosts our confidence, self esteem and drives us to perform well.

 According to a study in Forbes complimenting workers can have a similar impact and incentive as cash rewards. They found ‘scientific proof that a person performs better when they receive a social reward after completing an exercise’. The striatum area of the brain is activated when this happens, the same area of the brain activated when you are given a monetary reward.

 So, when was the last time you gave positive feedback or praised a colleague’s performance?

 The link to performance seems obvious, yet excuses and busy schedules get in the way of this kind of feedback being given regularly or becoming a workplace norm. There is a stigma associated with praising colleagues; maybe it will be seen as a weakness and how often should we really be giving positive feedback?

 According to Business Zone giving positive feedback improves performance, quality of work, accountability, strengthens relationships and ‘prevents destructive information gaps’. Evidence enough of the power of praise.

 How much of an effort would it be to commit to praising one team member a week and making sure that feedback is timely, constructive and genuinely heartfelt? Does sticking our neck out and giving someone the feedback they deserve really dent our ego and make us weaker? Or does it show that we are strong individuals, comfortable with recognising others and respectful and grateful for the hard work others put into their jobs every day? 

These are all rhetorical questions as I think we all know the answer. Let’s give a colleague the gift of praise and make their day – I can assure you it will be appreciated!

 Thank you

I couldn’t find a great quote on feedback; let me know if you find any. I will leave you with my thoughts on giving praise:

 Being able to give praise purely, simply and honestly to others is the greatest gift you can give. Be the person who steps forward and has the strength to give this gift where it is deserved. You will inspire and bring joy and appreciation to those who are giving their best.

Consistency. Consistency. Consistency.

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“Consistent”
kənˈsɪst(ə)nt
adjective
Acting or done in the same way over time, especially so as to be fair or accurate.

You don’t need to look far to see that it’s clear that people value consistent behaviour in their leadership. Just by running an internet search for “Consistency in Leadership” brings up a ream of articles, blogs, quotes, and other evidence that it’s a valued trait. Entrepeneur.com lists ‘consistency’ as one of the top 50 rules in leadership; the Leadership Toolbox lists it as one of the 7 most important traits of Leadership; and Bob MacDonald describes how a lack of consistency is equivalent of a lack of leadership ability. There are 95 million results from that search term on Google, and no doubt this is growing further by the day.

Consistency is important.

Most of us understand that consistency is important in any business. So that customers or clients have confidence in the goods and services provided, businesses must offer consistent quality and service. Take a simple example – I’m sure almost everyone has a favourite restaurant. Mine is Ping Pong Dim Sum, on London’s Southbank (in case you were wondering, and feel like taking me for dinner). It’s my favourite, because not only is the food delicious – but it’s always delicious, every time I go. It’s my favourite, because not only is the service great – but it’s always great. It’s my favourite, because not only do the cocktails taste great – but they always taste great. I like going there because I can guarantee, regardless of when I go, who I go with, or what I order, it’s going to be consistently good. Think about your own favourite restaurant – it’s probably your favourite for similar reasons.

Without the ability to offer this consistent service, customers will simply go looking elsewhere to have their needs met. For example, I only ever go to one store to buy denim jeans, but if River Island ever stopped making jeans with ‘short’ sizing, I’m going to have to walk out of the store on my disproportionately stumpy legs, and shop elsewhere.

This principle holds true for employees in search of a leader, too.

LeadersOughtToKnow.com point out that, if a leader develops a reputation among their employees for being inconsistent in their words and/or actions, employees will lose confidence in their ability to lead effectively; and, as a result, employees may go in search of leadership elsewhere. This might seem extreme, but employees all want, and need, a leader to assist in the situations where they don’t know how to help themselves. Inconsistency in leadership can derail that, because employees can’t rely on their leader to apply the same rules either to every employee, or in similar situations.

Inconsistency in leadership can lead to a number of negative feelings among those being led. Whenever I think about times where I have experienced inconsistency in leadership, I found myself having feelings of resentment that they had applied different rules for different people, and I found myself thinking this was unfair. I felt like I didn’t know where I stood because they couldn’t provide me with a logical explanation of how they had applied their decision; and I found myself thinking that they probably weren’t a very good leader, because they aren’t able to make a consistent choice.

Entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker, late Jim Rohn has been quoted as saying: “Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals”.

But, why is consistency so essential?

Inc.com outlines in detail some of the reasons consistency in leadership is a benefit:

Consistency allows for measurement. Until you have tried something for a period of time, and continued testing it in a consistent manner, you can’t make an informed decision whether it works or not. Do you remember carrying out science experiments at school, and having to change the variables of the experiment, but keeping everything else exactly the same to make the science project a “fair test”? Consistency in leadership has the same principle – you can’t measure your leadership effectiveness if what you are measuring isn’t performed consistently.

Consistency establishes your reputation. Imagine yourself in a situation at work where you’ve made a mistake, and you’re going to have to ‘fess up to the boss – as you walk down the corridor toward their office you pass a colleague who’s just left the office, and you ask them one simple question: “What mood are they in?”. If a leader cannot be consistent, their employees never know how they will react, and the leader will have a reputation for being unreliable, confusing, and – yes – inconsistent.

Consistency maintains your leadership message. “Do as I say, and not as I do” cannot be a reliable leadership principle. A team will pay as much, if not more, attention to what their leader does as to what they say. Consistency in leadership serves as a model for how employees behave – if a leader treats a meeting as unimportant, they shouldn’t be surprised when employees do the same.

Evan Carmichael points out three further reasons why leadership is a valued trait:

First, following we now live in unpredictable and uncertain times – The Telegraph released an article in February 2015 about how the world is on the brink of another credit crisis (and no one can forget the credit crunch in 2008); so now, when people go to work they want as much certainty as they can get. Consistency provides workers with the certainty that, if everything else is uncertain, they can still look to their leadership to deliver certain, predictable, consistent leadership behaviours.

Second, leaders must be able to demonstrate a level of self-discipline. If they can’t control their own behavior and attitude in different situations, then how can a leader expect those following them to control theirs?

Third, being inconsistent wastes your employees valuable time, because they spend so much time worrying about which way their leader is going to jump – this time could be much better spent doing their work.

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